Friday, January 08, 2010

Sowell Is Back

Just in time to refresh us for battle in the coming year, Thomas Sowell has a new book out: Intellectuals and Society. It is a must-read and  follows in the steps of two of his previous books The Vision of the Anointed and A Conflict of Visions.

One of the themes of Sowell's work is that decisions in society should be made by people who will experience the consequences of those decisions and that the more there is a separation between power and consequences the greater the danger to society.

Sowell makes a distinction between people whose occupations require high intellectual capacity - engineering, the professions, etc. - but who are judged by the results of their intellectual efforts - does the bridge hold up, does a surgeon's patient recover - and those whose occupations are to generate ideas in the abstract, the merit of which are never subject to empirical tests.